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Looking for the 90K Yoopers at risk to develop diabetes

If you knew you could make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay getting a very serious and expensive medical condition, would you do it?

An estimated 100,000 Yoopers live with prediabetes — 1 in 3 adults and 50% of seniors — and 90%, or 90,000, don’t even know it. Prediabetes is the stage before diabetes; it is also the time that allows for making lifestyle changes to stop the disease.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so a good time to take action to prevent diabetes, according to the U.P. Diabetes Outreach Network, or UPDON, an Upper Peninsula Commission For Area Progress program that aims to strengthen diabetes detection, prevention and care.

How can you learn if you are among the 1 in 3 adults or 1 in 2 seniors who may be living with prediabetes and not know it? Take a simple online prediabetes risk test at http://nmu.edu/ruralhealth/diabetes. The test asks about family history of diabetes, whether you have high blood pressure, how much you weigh and how active you are. It will also ask you about your family heritage, and, if a woman, whether or not you have ever had gestational diabetes. Based on your answers, the test will tell you if you are at high risk of living with prediabetes and on your way to developing diabetes.

If you score at “high risk,” the next step is to talk with a health care provider about getting a fasting — not eating or drinking anything but water for eight to 12 hours — blood sugar test at a lab; a finger poke test can’t be used. You may need a second test if your blood sugar is high.

Prediabetes is when fasting blood sugars are 100 to 125 mg/dL. If in that range, weight loss and being active are the best “medicines” to lower your blood sugars. Studies have shown these two actions — weight loss and physical activity — can lower the risk of going from prediabetes to diabetes by 58%, or 72% if a senior.

The diabetes prevention studies showed that a 5% to 7% weight loss — that’s 10 to 14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds — and 150 minutes a week of physical activity are what you should aim for to prevent or delay getting diabetes.

Many people need help with making changes to lose weight and keep it off. Some options include —

— Diabetes prevention weight loss programs: While no in-person classes now are taking place, MSU Extension does offer some via Zoom. Noom, Fruit Street and Hope 80/20 are other online options that cost about $20 to $30 a month.

— Meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist: Most hospitals and some clinics have RDNs.

— Join a weight loss program such as Weight Watchers or Tops.

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